Sep 18, 2015

My Honest Experience Meeting Amma, the Hugging Saint

September 9, 2015
Huffington Post
Cathy Margel

I kept hearing about Amma. She just kept popping up in books and conversations. So when I found out she would be in NYC last month, I knew I had to get there. I started Googling, and she was pretty impressive. According to her website, "Amma has given this motherly embrace, known as her darshan, to more than 33 million people throughout the world." People said this woman changed their life. My yoga teacher said it felt like God was hugging her. Like I said, pretty impressive stuff!

I have a fear of missing out, so I knew I had to get there. I figured I better bring along my family too. I wouldn't want them to miss out on something life changing. So I dragged my husband and two kids there. Okay, so my husband is not into this type of thing, to say the least. But he was somewhat willing to help me, because he saw how excited I was. I told him how this was a once in a lifetime experience and she only comes to the U.S. once every 10 years (okay, I just read she was here last year... so oops on that).

So we get to the city, which is an adventure in itself with an 11-month-old and a 3-year-old. I am really pumped at this point and trying not to listen to my husband's jokes as we walk in. I am in the Amma zone. Lots of people come from all over so we had to wait a couple hours before she arrived. Finally she walks in. I immediately start checking in with myself. What do I feel? Do I feel any different now that she is in the room? No different, but I am excited! I am not a big picture taker but I quickly grab my phone and start snapping away. Then the woman in front of me starts screaming at me and nearly jumps over her seat. She is yelling to put my phone away and delete the pictures immediately. Clearly I am off to a bad start.

They start a 20-minute meditation. Not sure if you have ever meditated with a baby and toddler on your lap, but it's not easy and not relaxing. Add hundreds of people and it makes it even harder. I am trying to keep the kids quiet to not ruin everyone's experience and my stress level is through the roof at this point. My husband is not helping by making faces and saying he wants to leave. Finally they start the hugs! Thank God. I notice my token, that they gave out at the door, has the letter T on it. We are at A. Not good. One of the women working for Amma informs me that it will be hours before we get our hugs. Ahhhhh. I finally convince her that with two kids I need to get moved ahead. Luckily, I think the entire place has had enough of us and she agrees.

The woman ushers us up and my husband announces to her that he will not be getting a hug -- he is "gonna skip it!" I am ready to lose my shit at this point. The woman is shocked, disgusted and mad. I quickly tell her he is kidding and will be getting his hug and force him onto the stage.

You kneel right in front of Amma and she hugs you. She quickly grabbed the baby and kissed him. He started crying but Amma just smiled. She then hugged us both very tightly and whispered "my daughter, my daughter, my daughter" in my ear. So one ear I have her sweet voice and the other the baby screaming. That put a little damper on the hug. Amma gives a really good hug and I felt her good energy. She has a beautiful smile and smelled really good. Anyone that can sit for that long and hug complete strangers all day is pretty special in my opinion.

I stood up and quickly started thinking how do I feel? There were people all around her meditating after the hug. At this point, I knew not even to ask my husband for a few extra minutes, because he was already out the door! But how did I feel? I looked around again and saw people crying. Hmm... that's what I was looking for. Nope, no tears. Instead I felt tired and to be honest a little disappointed. I had high hopes for this hug. Even though it was a nice hug, I was looking for more. I felt bad for dragging my family there and mostly confused about what I was looking for. So I came home and re-read a beautiful post by Spirited Well Being Do You Need a Guru? It really made a lot of sense to me. The truth is I always think everyone else knows better. I always think that everyone else has all the answers. After meditating on my experience that night, I got my answer. I need to trust myself.

Meeting Amma made me realize I need to be my own guru. I need to look inside myself for the answers. I know best. It feels great to finally accept that. I am my own guru. Thanks, Amma.

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